WATCHING even an hour of popular children's television programmes such as Power Rangers or Scooby Doo can damage the intellectual development of children under the age of three, a study has shown.
Researchers say "violent" programmes targeted at children can double the chance of youngsters showing signs of attention deficit disorder.Dr Dimitri Christakis, associate professor of paediatrics at the University of Washington, said the first three years of a child's life involved critical brain development, specifically connections between neurons. Watching such programmes during this early period of brain "plasticity" meant children were being conditioned for a high level of stimulation which they were not going to get later in life.
With nearly a quarter of young children having a television in their bedroom, the latest findings will add to the debate about parents using the box as a "babysitter". This is the first time programme content has been investigated in such studies.
The research project found that popular shows such as Power Rangers, Lion King and Scooby Doo, involving fighting, hitting people, threats or other violence central to the plot, were shown to increase the signs of attention disorders.
But even "non-violent" entertainment such as Rugrats and The Flintstones carried a substantial risk of attention problems, but slighter lower.
Educational programmes such as Arthur, featuring the adventures of a well-adjusted anthropomorphic aardvark, or Barney the Dinosaur and Sesame Street had no adverse effects.
Source - Scotsman